The human eye is a complex structure made up of various components, including the iris, lens, and cornea. The iris, which is the colored part of the eye, regulates the amount of light that enters the eye by adjusting the size of the pupil. However, in some individuals, the angle between the iris and cornea can become narrow, leading to a condition known as narrow angles. In this article, we will discuss narrow angles and the laser iridotomy procedure used to treat them.
What are Narrow Angles?
Narrow angles, also known as angle-closure or closed-angle glaucoma, occur when the angle between the iris and cornea becomes narrow or closed. This narrowing can lead to a blockage of the drainage channels that allow fluid to flow out of the eye, resulting in an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). High IOP can damage the optic nerve and cause irreversible vision loss if left untreated.
Narrow angles can be acute or chronic. Acute narrow angles are a medical emergency and require immediate treatment to prevent permanent vision loss. Chronic narrow angles, on the other hand, can cause gradual vision loss over time and may not present any symptoms until the disease has progressed.
Laser Iridotomy Procedure
Laser iridotomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat narrow angles. During the procedure, a laser is used to create a small hole in the iris, allowing fluid to flow more freely and reducing IOP. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis and takes only a few minutes to complete.
Before the procedure, the patient’s eyes are numbed with local anesthesia, and a special lens is placed on the eye to focus the laser. The surgeon then uses the laser to create a small hole in the iris, typically near the top or bottom of the eye. The hole allows fluid to flow from the posterior chamber of the eye to the anterior chamber, bypassing the narrow angle and reducing IOP.
After the procedure, patients may experience mild discomfort or sensitivity to light, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and eye drops. The eye may also be red or irritated for a few days following the procedure, but this typically resolves on its own.
Benefits of Laser Iridotomy
Laser iridotomy is a safe and effective procedure for treating narrow angles and reducing IOP. The procedure has several benefits, including:
- Minimally invasive: Laser iridotomy is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis, reducing the risk of complications associated with more invasive procedures.
- Quick recovery: Most patients recover quickly following laser iridotomy, with few side effects and minimal downtime.
- Low risk: Laser iridotomy has a low risk of complications, making it a safe and effective treatment option for narrow angles.
Narrow angles can lead to a variety of vision problems, including glaucoma and permanent vision loss. Laser iridotomy is a safe and effective treatment option for reducing IOP and preventing vision loss in individuals with narrow angles. If you are experiencing symptoms of narrow angles or have been diagnosed with the condition, talk to your eye care professional about the benefits of laser iridotomy and whether it may be right for you.